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review

Rapha Men’s Explore Hooded Lightweight Down Jacket

6
£240.00

VERDICT:

6
10
Stylish, well made and useful in the right conditions, but not the best of its kind
Stylish
Light
Really well made
Usefully warm and wind resistant
Good cut for gentle rides and walking
Can't handle getting wet
Not breathable enough for hard riding
Expensive
Weight: 
259g
Contact: 

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The Rapha Men's Explore Lightweight Down Jacket is a little odd – it's lovely to wear, pretty warm and can handle gentle on-bike use well, but its performance is limited in comparison to many far cheaper jackets. It's best at looking and feeling good in casual, bike-related situations, but even then, Rapha itself does a very similar, plusher alternative that's warmer and has very few downsides.

For me, Rapha has done a pretty poor job distinguishing this from its Men's Explore Down Jacket I reviewed recently. The pair have almost identical names, looks and prices, and neither Rapha's blurb nor the pictures on its site make a great case for choosing one over the other.

> Buy now: Rapha Men’s Explore Lightweight Down Jacket for £155.95 from Rapha

Put them side by side in real life, however, and there are noticeable differences that might sway you. While the other one isn't exactly heavy at 328g, this version is 69g lighter at 259g. It's also considerably thinner (especially in the hood, which isn't insulated), though the inevitable flipside is it's less warm. Wear them back-to-back and the difference in warmth is quite noticeable.

This uses 750 fill-power goose down, the same as the other jacket, but less of it.

2024 Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket - inside.jpg

To put it simply, if weight is absolutely at a premium and 70g matters, and/or you're wanting to wear it for actual riding with a layer on top, this is the version to go for. Its thinner bars of insulation fit better under waterproofs and crush less easily too, which is important: you need the puffy structure for trapping warm air. Also, this Lightweight jacket's mostly fabric hood can cope better with getting wet or fitting under a second hood.

2024 Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket - hood side.jpg

If you're really looking for useful warmth off the bike, such as at campsites, coffee stops or for post-ride cleanups, you're better off with the other version. Oh, and if it's the looks as much as anything you want, this isn't the version to go for either – the regular comes in four colours, whereas this Lightweight alternative only comes in two. There's this Carbon Grey/Black or an admittedly interesting Sand/Chartreuse.

As with the heavier version, the Lightweight still isn't breathable enough to stop you overheating quite rapidly if you work hard. It's fine if you ride gently, but it gets very hot if you don't.

2024 Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket - chest logo.jpg

And don't go thinking it packs much smaller than the heavier version, either – it doesn't, as most of the difference between the two jackets is air. Both scrunch easily down to a ball around 6-7in across. It doesn't puff up as much while you're trying to root through your bag, though, if that matters to you.

It is very well made, as you may well demand given the price. The seams are impressively neat and feel strong, while you get slinky zips on the neatly hidden hand pockets for keeping stuff secure.

2024 Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket - zipped pocket.jpg

The main zip is two-way should you need to ventilate your belly button…

2024 Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket - zip detail.jpg

…while the wind baffle behind the zip tops out with a zip garage and a soft-backed section for your neck and chin. It's all very comfortable.

2024 Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket - collar.jpg

There are elasticated drawstrings at the waist and neck for getting it all super-snug, while the cuffs use simple and effective non-adjustable elastic. With six sizes (XS-XXL) and an accurate size guide, it shouldn't be too hard to find a good fit anyway.

2024 Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket - back.jpg

The reasonable drop to the tail and well-judged arm length mean it works well both on and off the bike – arguably best of all off it, to be honest, as there are ways of insulating that are both more breathable and less vulnerable to rain than goose down.

Value

At £240 this is £40 cheaper than the other version, which may also sway you – though at the time of writing both were heavily discounted, and the warmer one in green was actually cheaper at £140 than this Lightweight at £155.95 (and the Sand/Chartreuse is £120). Discounted options are in limited sizes, though.

At the full £240 the price is still quite high against the same competition as its puffier sibling. The Stolen Goat Men's Black Adventure Down Jacket is £60 less and features the same 90% down/10% feathers goose insulation, and Anna found the women's version very good in her review.

> Buyer’s Guide: Best winter cycling jackets

Alternatively, the Altura Twister Men's Insulated Cycling Jacket is £160, and although it uses plastic insulation instead of goose, it consequently copes far better with getting soaked. Also, the men's version is waist length, which solves one of the issues Caroline had with the much longer ladies' one.

Overall

In isolation this is a very stylish and comfortable jacket for (mostly) posing about off the bike, and the quality is great. It's light and easy to pack. However, if you're willing to accept the (goose)downsides of the design – its inability to handle rain and relatively poor breathability – then this isn't even the best option in the Rapha range.

Verdict

Stylish, well made and useful in the right conditions, but not the best of its kind

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Mens Explore Hooded Lightweight Down jacket

Size tested: Large

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Rapha says: "Lightweight And Packable Down Jacket."

It also says: "Can be layered over a fleece or directly over a t-shirt. Also wear it as a mid layer under a Gore-Tex jacket when cold and wet. Avoid wearing in the rain on its own."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Rapha lists:

Extremely lightweight, insulating, and packable down jacket for adventures on and off the bike

Easily compressible into integrated stuff sack

Responsibly sourced 750FP goose down provides exceptional warmth for little weight

Strategically placed synthetic insulation in moisture and abrasion prone areas

Ergonomic fit and articulation for freedom of movement on the bike that also works off the bike

Non-insulated under-the-helmet hood for added packability and effective wind protection

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Pretty well – it's light and packable but provides useful warmth when you stop.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Good looks, good fit, packable.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Not as warm as Rapha's other version while being hardly any lighter and not really much more packable.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's at the high end, and more expensive than some pretty similar jackets.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

This looks and feels great, and it's easy to stash away for some emergency warmth. It can't handle rain or hard riding, however, and it's not as warm as Rapha's own alternative – an alternative that's not a lot heavier or bulkier. If you really value every gram, or just don't want to pay the £40 extra but do want the Rapha branding, then this is fine. Otherwise there's no compelling reason to choose this over the alternatives.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

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2 comments

Avatar
theslowcyclistxx | 2 months ago
0 likes

I didn't understand the purpose of this jacket until I went on an evening gravel ride, where we ended up on a restaurant eating burgers. We had around 15k home after that, and some of the guys had this jacket as an additional layer after leaving the restaurant. I was more than freezing when we left the restaurant with my half soaked clothes, but the guys with this jacket seemed to enjoy the ride home. I think this is the purpose of the jacket - it is not to compete with a normal winter jacket.

Avatar
Freddy56 | 2 months ago
0 likes

After road.cc review it, I bought Galibier version of this which is a bit lighter but only avaiable in green and love it.

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